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On the choice of in-house production versus outsourcing by multinationals

  • C. Alyson
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    The global economy is becoming more integrated with the increase in international fragmentation. This paper examines two forms of global production networks in a general equilibrium framework by building on the 'knowledge-capital model.' The focus is the relationship between country characteristics and the multinational firm's choice either to allocate the labor-intensive processing stage in-house to its foreign affiliates or to outsource the activity to outside contractors at arm's-length. Chinese data on the export processing trade are used to test the theory. The findings show that multinational firms with their headquarters in highly skilled-labor-abundant countries of intermediate size have a preference for outsourcing. By contrast, skilled-labor-abundant countries of small size are homes to multinational firms with subsidiary production in the host country where unskilled labor is cheap.

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    File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09638190600691000
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    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development.

    Volume (Year): 15 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 231-254

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:jitecd:v:15:y:2006:i:2:p:231-254
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    1. David Hummels & Jun Ishii & Kei-Mu Yi, 1999. "The nature and growth of vertical specialization in world trade," Staff Reports 72, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    2. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 2000. "International Data on Educational Attainment Updates and Implications," NBER Working Papers 7911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    4. David Hummels & Dana Rapoport & Kei-Mu Yi, 1998. "Vertical specialization and the changing nature of world trade," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jun, pages 79-99.
    5. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2003. "Outsourcing Versus FDI in Industry Equilibrium," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 317-327, 04/05.
    6. Kevin H. Zhang & James R. Markusen, 1997. "Vertical Multinationals and Host-Country Characteristics," NBER Working Papers 6203, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Burda, Michael C. & Dluhosch, Barbara, 2001. "Cost competition, fragmentation and globalization," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2001,40, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
    8. Venables, Anthony J., 1999. "Fragmentation and multinational production," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 935-945, April.
    9. Robert Feenstra, 2003. "Integration Of Trade And Disintegration Of Production In The Global Economy," Working Papers 986, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    10. James R. Markusen, 2004. "Multinational Firms and the Theory of International Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262633078, June.
    11. Jose Campa & Linda S. Goldberg, 1997. "The evolving external orientation of manufacturing: a profile of four countries," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jul, pages 53-81.
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